Ebola Prep

hypochondriacI have always had a solid – obsessive – relationship with illness. For I am a Group B Hypochondriac. The Group A hypochondriac sneezes and then takes three weeks off of work. They milk minor illnesses for all they are worth. 79% of the Czech Republic falls into this category.

The Group B Hypochondriac does not waste his time with small time illnesses like cold and flu. He lurches for life threatening and deadly; the more improbable and destructive the illness, the better. Extra points if it’s tropical or transmitted by wildlife.

So when Ebola became the hottest word in the world of disease, I cracked my knuckles, went online and window shopped for hospital gowns and ventilation masks. And as I waited to get Ebola, I prepared.

First of all, I looked up Ebola charities. I try to donate to charities of diseases I am planning on getting, so I now have twenty dollars earmarked for the Pre-Undiagnosed Ebola Survivor’s Investment (or PUESI). Second, I rekindled relationships with friends who are doctors. That way, when I start coming down with Ebola I can get partial medical advice without leaving the hazmat area in my living room built out of shower curtains and shopping bags. And third, I realized that to get Ebola, I had to know how one gets it and what it looks like. So I looked up the risks and symptom list.

Ebola can be transmitted in a number of ways. It can be transmitted through direct contact with blood or body fluids (including urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who has Ebola. It can be transmitted through objects (like needles and syringes) contaminated with the virus, and through infected fruit bats or primates.

For better or worse, I don’t seem to trade bodily fluids with many people these days, so I could basically eliminate that risk. Moreover, I can’t remember the last time I ate feces or had a shot of breast milk (college was a long time ago). As for animals, there are very few, or no, fruit bats in my life; and the only primates I meet sit across a table from me and drink beer. My cat did once vomit in my ear, but she has been fully screened since then.

After becoming acquainted with the risks, I studied the list of early stage Ebola symptoms, which is pretty long and very disturbing. This list includes fever, weakness, headache, body aches, cough, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

OK, the bad news is that I show all of these symptoms. The good news is that most of them can be attributed to my Becherovka habit, my running hobby, and worrying about Ebola. The rest can be explained by the fact that I am forty years old. If this list included permanently sore knees, an allergy to pop music, and the appearance of patches of hair in unusual locales, then I have had Ebola for six years.

But the most terrifying aspect of Ebola is the bodily hemorrhaging. This means that you bleed from places that normally don’t bleed (like eyes and rectum) or during activities which normally don’t expel blood (like pooping or coughing).

I waited for this terrible symptom for days, obsessively inspecting excretions and body parts for blood. When none appeared, I was just starting to believe that I was going to make it, when I accidentally stabbed myself in the finger with a steak knife. Once the blood came I was certain that this was the end. I reclined on the shopping bags on my couch and waited. But somehow, I managed to pull through.

If I can get through this, people, so can you! I did need a Band-Aid for that finger, though.

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